In the Lenten season, which begins the Church's second cycle of preparation, celebration, and rejoicing, "we together work to root out the blindness and deception that prevent us from receiving each other as gracious gifts from God," Norman Wirzba writes.
Nicholas Russo searches for Lent's roots in the fasting practices of the early church—preparing catechumens for baptism, reenacting Jesus' fast in the wilderness after baptism, or keeping vigil for Easter. Scot McKnight warns that characteristic disciplines of Lent cut "against the grain of American culture [and]...of personal spiritualities of all sorts" as they bring us to be honest about our sinfulness and turn to God for forgiveness and correction. He describes Lenten fasting not as a means to something, but as "a response to sins and the prospects of death in our culture, our nation, our church, and our own life." Carmen Butcher and Heather Hughes explore other central Lenten practices—walking the stations of the cross and keeping vigil—in both their traditional forms and creative adaptations today.
In their Lenten meditations two young pastors, Alan Rudnick and Elizabeth Evans Hagan, discover the invitation to penitence and joy of receiving forgiveness in quotidian places. Heidi Hornik traces the portrayal of the penitential stance in painting and sculpture by Georges Rouault, Donatelli, and Bernini.
The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to probe the origin of Lent and examine its practices so we can observe it faithfully and winsomely today. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.